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Six players from state champion Gaels gain scholarships

As a young defensive lineman, Jalen Grimble studied and looked up to several players.

“The big one,” Grimble said, was Warren Sapp, who went from a legendary career at Miami to seven Pro Bowls as an NFL defensive tackle.

Grimble, a senior defensive end from Bishop Gorman, couldn’t help but smile Wednesday at the idea he’ll soon don a Miami uniform. The thought might not be so nice for quarterbacks in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“The University of Miami, it’s hard to come by a place like that,” Grimble said. “If you get an opportunity like that, you can’t pass it up.”

Thus, Grimble signed his national letter of intent with Miami on Wednesday morning, bringing an end to the frenzied recruitment of the area’s top prospect and one of the nation’s most prized pass rushers.

Grimble, who originally committed to Southern California in May, also considered scholarship offers from UCLA, Nebraska, Louisiana State and others.

“It’s great that (signing day) finally came,” Grimble said. “The last couple of months have been hectic. My mind was racing. One day I was going here, the next day I was going there. I never really had my mind made up until like two days ago.”

“At least 12” family members, young and old, wearing the orange and green of the Hurricanes, joined Grimble at a ceremony at Gorman on Wednesday afternoon.

As word spread of his signing with Miami on Wednesday, the 6-foot-3-inch, 265-pound Grimble had some new fans.

“Today alone I received 76 friend requests on Facebook,” Grimble said.

Seventy-six?

“Seventy-six in one day,” he replied.

That’s how coveted Grimble had become after leading the Gaels to the past two Class 4A state titles. He totaled 71 tackles and six sacks as a senior en route to first-team all-state honors.

“Jalen has so much God-given ability. He was already a great player when he got here,” Gorman coach Tony Sanchez said. “We just wanted to focus on the little things with him, and he did that and started understanding the game more.”

Grimble’s decision highlighted the ceremony at Gorman, which had several other players sign.

The Gaels also sent safety Evan Zeger to Washington, center A.C. Patterson to Texas-El Paso, cornerback Togasii Peko to Navy and defensive end Bryson Mook to Northern Arizona.

Palo Verde held a ceremony in honor of Brandon Wright, who signed to play running back at San Diego State over an offer to play defensive back at California.

“I was anxious the whole last week. I felt like, ‘Let’s get to this,’ ” Wright said of signing day. “Now that it’s over with, I feel pretty good.”

Flanked by his parents, Wright received a congratulatory phone call during the signing from Aztecs running backs coach Jeff Horton, a former UNLV head coach.

Wright rushed for 1,632 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2010 on his way to first-team all-state honors.

“I just finished 27 years of coaching, and (Wright) is by far one of the best backs I’ve ever coached,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “He’s going to have a great college career.”

Peko and Faith Lutheran receiver/linebacker Don Pearson picked Navy, and Desert Pines defensive tackle Tala Atimalala chose Army.

Others headed to Football Bowl Subdivision programs included Foothill linebacker Connor Afoa (UNLV), Silverado cornerback Ladale Jackson (Utah State), Las Vegas High receiver Marquan Major (Idaho) and Liberty defensive end Sam Tai, who already is enrolled at UCLA.

Agassi Prep sent its first player to a four-year program when cornerback LeShaun Sims signed with Southern Utah.

Other Football Championship Subdivision signees included Canyon Springs running back Malik Brown and Foothill defensive back Miles Killebrew with Southern Utah and Silverado defensive end Bennie Harris and guard Eric Noone with San Diego.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at taird@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203.

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